After facing its first true test of the season, Arizona (6-0) will take to the road and travel to Clemson for what is expected to be another good tough challenge for the Wildcats.
Arizona is coming off of a win over Southern Miss that was hard fought from the opening tip. The Wildcats trailed by as many as twelve, but battled back to take a 63-55 victory.
Clemson (5-2) is gearing up to take on the Wildcats, who may be the toughest team that the Tigers have faced all season. It is only the third home game that Clemson has played this season, winning the home opener, but losing to Purdue 73-61 in late November. The other loss on the season came when the Tigers fell to Gonzaga 57-49 on a neutral floor.
The Wildcats struggled in the last game, but should come out looking to prove themselves against the Tigers. It will be a tough matchup, as Clemson has shown signs of being a tournament team come March.
Leading the Tigers is big man Devin Booker. The 6-foot-8 center is easily one of Clemson’s best players, averaging almost twelve points on the season. He also grabs 7.6 rebounds per game and has four blocks to his name this season. He has a height disadvantage against Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski, but has experience on his side.
Joining Booker in the front court is 6-foot-6 sophomore K.J. McDaniels. The forward is tied with Booker for the team lead in points scored, also averaging 11.9 points per game. In addition, McDaniels also turns it up on the defensive end of the court, as he has sixteen blocks and ten steals on the season.
The final forward spot is actually a toss up as to who may be starting for the Tigers. Senior forward Milton Jennings is the best bet for Clemson as he is averaging 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds on the season. However, he just completed a two-game suspension that was handed to him when he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession.
In his place, Bernard Sullivan has filled in, although he has been a less-than-adequate replacement. The sophomore has just twelve points on the entire season to go along with just ten total rebounds. Sullivan could see some minutes early, but the guess here is that it will be too difficult to keep Jennings off the court.
Rod Hall should be the man for Clemson at point guard. Another sophomore that has found his way into the starting rotation, Hall has done exactly what is needed of him this season. He is dishing out 3.9 assists per game and helping the Tigers’ offense flow.
Normally, T.J. Sapp would fill the final starting guard spot, but the sophomore guard announced that he was transferring earlier this week after he saw a shortage of playing time. Instead, the spot is likely to be filled by another sophomore, Damarcus Harrison. The BYU transfer is already playing eighteen minutes a game and scoring 6.1 points. His reaction to the first start of his career could play a factor in how close the game is early on.
The first man off the bench for the Tigers should be Adonis Filer. As a 6-foot-2 freshman, Filer is already contributing to the success of the team. He is playing over twenty minutes a night and is the team’s fourth leading scorer with 7.6 points per game. Filer has been gradually improving from game to game, but still has some inexperience that is playing against him from time to time.
Jordan Roper is another freshman that is seeing key minutes for Clemson. At 5-foot-11, Roper is the last of the Tigers to log significant minutes. He sees the floor for about fifteen minutes and scores just about five points each time. His height limits his rebounding ability, but he is an adequate back-up point guard.
The Littlejohn Coliseum should be rocking when Arizona rolls into town. Arizona is looking to learn from the Southern Miss game and it will be interesting to see how the Wildcats do in their second road contest of the year.